The Volokh Conspiracy

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Michael McConnell Wins Cooley Book Prize

It's a Major Award!


The Georgetown Center for the Constitution has announced the winner of the fifth annual Thomas M. Cooley Book Prize. Michael McConnell of Stanford Law School has won for his new book, The President Who Would Not Be King: Executive Power Under the Constitution (Princeton University Press, 2020). The prize carries an award of $50,000. The Center will host a symposium on the book. Judge Don Willett will deliver the Cooley Lecture at the award ceremony.

The announcement includes this from Randy Barnett:

Michael McConnell brilliantly shows how the Philadelphia Convention threaded the needle of creating a strong unitary executive while allocating significant powers to Congress to constrain their abuse. In particular, he sensitively examines each of the "prerogative" powers of the British monarch and shows how the framers carefully considered which to allocate to an elected president, which to the Senate, and which to the Congress as a whole.

His pathbreaking analysis of the successive drafts of the Constitution demonstrates the care that was taken to empower an effective executive while avoiding the emergence of a king. Using this originalist interpretation, he then powerfully critiques the tri-partite framework for evaluating executive power in Justice Robert Jackson's influential concurrence in the Steel Seizure Case.

The past winners of the Cooley Book Prize are

Gary Lawson and Guy Seidman, A Great Power of Attorney: Understanding the Fiduciary Constitution (University Press of Kansas, 2017)

Richard H. Fallon, Jr., Law and Legitimacy in the Supreme Court (Harvard University Press, 2018)

Keith E. Whittington, Repugnant Laws: Judicial Review of Acts of Congress from the Founding to the Present (University Press of Kansas, 2019)

Sean Wilentz, No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation's Founding (Harvard University Press, 2018)